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Structured Deferred Sentence (SDS)

Last updated: 27th June 2024


A structured deferred sentence is a flexible intervention providing structured social work support for individuals post-conviction but prior to sentencing. They can be used for people who have offended with underlying issues that might be addressed through social work and/or multi-agency intervention. At the end of the period of intervention, the court retains the discretion to pass sentence in any manner that would have been appropriate at the time of conviction, but with the benefit of information from the supervising officer in relation to the period of deferral.

Further Information:

Young people UNDER 18 – Youth Justice Services provide an individual, needs-led service and when their group programme has been rolled out this will also be available, if appropriate. People OVER 18 – The eligibility criteria for SDS includes: • those who pose a low to medium risk of re-offending and have been involved in less serious offending, are at a lower risk of custody, have a less entrenched pattern of offending, have identified needs relating to offending behaviour, are not currently subject to a statutory order and are motivated to engage with a short, structured intervention. • those presenting a higher risk of re-offending who have a history of non-engagement with services. This is to help establish suitability for community based sentences post SDS. • The SDS provides a short period of focused intervention (approx. 3 months).